Mets left-hander Jon Niese was forced to leave his start against the Rangers in the first inning last night after he was hit in the left side by a comebacker off the bat of Alex Rios. Fortunately, he managed to avoid a serious injury.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, X-rays on Niese’s side came back negative and he was diagnosed with a bruise. The southpaw actually wanted to stay in the game, but Mets trainer Ray Ramirez was concerned about the possibility of a fractured rib and a punctured lung. Niese had a previous incident back in 2009 where he suffered a complete tear of his hamstring after he was left in to throw a warm-up pitch, so playing it safe ultimately won out here.
Niese has been a bright spot for the disappointing Mets this season, putting up a 2.96 ERA and 74/28 K/BB ratio in 103 1/3 innings. He hasn’t allowed more than earned runs in any of his 17 starts.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.